James J. Ecker

James John Ecker, 90, of Stockbridge, died on February 5, 2018, at the Calumet Medical Center in Chilton. He was born July 3, 1927, in Stockbridge, son of George and Veronica (Wieseckel) Ecker. On October 19, 1946, he married his late wife, Eunice Stevens.

James got in some trouble at school during eighth grade. He and a friend had stuffed the chimney and filled the classroom with smoke. While he was getting yelled at by one of the nuns he had had enough and made a run for it, jumped out the window, and headed home. He refused to return, claiming he “knew more than the teachers anyway.” Having freed-up his days, James decided to start working and began driving milk truck at only 12 years old. Eventually he was pulled over and the officer told him he needed a driver’s license. The officer proceeded to pull one out, gave it to James, and let him on his way. His resourcefulness continued through World War II. James managed to find a supply of tires, batteries, and wire bailer twine, and he sold them on the black market to earn money. 

James worked as a dealer for Oliver Farm Equipment for almost 20 years. He used his business skills to start two companies, almost at the same time. He became owner of J & E Construction and Jim Ecker Farms. At one point, he even went to Michigan where he helped build the Victorian Dam near the Town of Rockland. He was one of the original members of the Stockbridge sewage commission for over 60 years, 50 of those as president. He was also a board member at his church: St. Mary Catholic Church in Stockbridge.

Jim knew how to have fun, too. His family remembers him as a storyteller, although the truth was always debatable. He was a hunter and a fisherman, he loved steam engines, and enjoyed collecting antique cars and tractors. He was fond of his dogs and had a special bond with his favorite, Pete, a German shepherd-husky mix. Nothing was more special to him, though, than his grandchildren. He would feed them chocolate coins, even after their parents had said, “No more.”

James is survived by his children: Donald (JoAnne) Ecker, Robert (Sandie) Ecker, Margie (Dean) Woelfel, Rick Ecker, and Dave (Wendy) Ecker; grandchildren: Don Jr., Doug & Amanda Ecker, Shelly (Todd) Ludwig, Jennifer (Jeff) Funk, Mike (Lisa) Zitzelsberger, Mitchell & Megan (significant other, Jeff Ditter) Ecker, Jackie (Tony) Pool, Joe (Jamie) Ecker, Will, Jake & Harley Ecker, Josh (Larissa) Woelfel, Angela (Tim) Sauter, Lindsey (Jon) Panko, Abigail (Steve) Sauter, Deanna (Noah) Finnigan, Sam (Erin) Woelfel, Jordan (fiancee, Alexis Hughes), Micah (Brianna VerVoort) & Michaela Woelfel; great grandchildren: Brandon & Sawyer Ludwig, Gabby & Gavin Funk, Owen, Chase & Grant Zitzelsberger, Landon Ecker, Kiley & Jessa Woelfel, Lucas, Emelia & Peter Sauter, Elijah Panko, Montgomery & Sullivan Sauter, Leslie & Liam Woelfel; his brother: John (Lilian) Ecker; a son-in-law: Bob Zitzelberger; a sister-in-law: Diane Ecker; and his very special friend, Ruth Gerhartz.

James was preceded in death by his wife, Eunice; his parents, George and Veronica; his daughter: Mary Zitzelsberger; a brother: George Ecker, Jr.; sister- and brother-in-law: Esther (Ken) Head; and sister-in-law: Lorena Lancour.

Funeral services will be held at 11:30am on Friday, February 9, 2018, at the St. Mary Catholic Church (Military Rd.) in Stockbridge. Friends may call from 9:00am until 11:15am at the church on the day of the service.